Hidden camera footage suggesting South Korea’s First Lady, Kim Keon Hee, received a Christian Dior bag as a gift has sparked controversy, casting a shadow over President Yoon Suk Yeol and his conservative People Power Party (PPP). The luxury handbag, valued at $2,200, has ignited internal divisions within the PPP and raised concerns about potential ramifications on the party’s popularity in the upcoming April parliamentary elections.
The scandal, from footage released late last year, allegedly depicts a pastor presenting the Dior bag to the First Lady. With the elections on the horizon, political analysts suggest that this controversy poses a significant threat to the PPP’s electoral prospects and has created disarray within the ruling party in South Korea.
Calls for an apology and admission of impropriety have emerged within President Yoon Suk Yeol’s People Power Party (PPP) regarding the “Dior bag scandal.” Certain conservative party members are urging President Yoon and his wife, Kim Keon Hee, to address the incident, marked as the “Dior bag scandal” by local media, and concede that accepting the purse was, at the very least, inappropriate.
The controversy, triggered by a video released late last year, allegedly reveals the First Lady receiving a Christian Dior handbag from a pastor under questionable circumstances in September 2022. The lack of a direct response from President Yoon and his wife has fueled internal discord within the PPP and drawn criticism from both party members and the rival Democratic Party.
As the PPP faces internal tensions over the scandal, the incident has become a focal point for critics and the opposition. According to polls, voters are seeking clarification from President Yoon, while the Democratic Party leverages the issue to mount attacks against him.
Rhee Jong-hoon, a political analyst, describes the situation as a “political bombshell,” emphasizing that the risks related to the controversy involving First Lady Kim Keon Hee will likely escalate further.
PPP interim leader Han Dong-hoon, perceived as Yoon’s protégé, acknowledged the public concern regarding the handbag and refused an offer to resign despite being asked by the President’s office.
While Yoon and Han have seemingly reconciled their differences publicly, the “Dior bag scandal” continues to divide PPP members, with some likening the First Lady’s actions to the extravagance of French Queen Marie Antoinette.
PPP opponents exploit the scandal to erode public support for the party, with recent polls indicating that 70% of South Koreans desire Yoon’s address of the issue. The controversy, considered serious and potentially impactful on voter sentiment, adds a layer of complexity to the political landscape just three months before South Korea’s legislative elections, coinciding with a rebound in Yoon’s approval ratings following a year-long decline.
Despite winning a closely contested election in 2022, President Yoon Suk Yeol’s People Power Party (PPP) remains a minority in the parliament, where the Democratic Party holds the majority.
The controversy surrounding First Lady Kim Keon Hee’s acceptance of a Christian Dior handbag, potentially violating an anti-bribery law, has heightened tensions within the PPP.